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Entries for May 2016

In the May 25 issue of The Catholic Leader, we noted that if leaders are focusing primarily on expanding their influence, they are focusing on the wrong thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to be an influential leader. Indeed, Jesus wanted us to lead with influence. But the way to do that is not by focusing on expanding our influence. Instead, we should focus on expanding our capacity to lead – and if we do that well, our influence will inevitably grow and deepen. Ralph Enlow, author of The Leader’s Palette: Seven Primary Colors, offers a practical framework for Christian leaders to e...

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In the May 18 edition of The Catholic Leader, we discussed the importance of leaders being able to delegate – but also noted that not all tasks can or should be delegated. The story included a link to a matrix by Julie Winkle Giulioni outlining which tasks leaders should and should not delegate. Today we share the thoughts of L. Rogers Owen, a Protestant minister and associate professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, who says there is something else a leader can’t delegate: managing an organization’s culture. We’ve often spoken of leaders as “keepers of the vision.” For an org...

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My dad came home from work one day with a story that clearly amazed him. He told us about it at the dinner table. Dad was a pharmaceutical salesman, and on that day he had paid a visit to a physician at a residential facility for seriously mentally ill patients. At the reception desk he was cleared through a locked door with directions to find the physician’s office. But somehow he lost his way in the huge facility and found himself in a corridor of patients’ rooms. As he passed a room, desperate to find his way, a man suddenly stuck his head out of a door and beckoned him to come inside. Dad was uncomfor...

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  In yet another irony of organizational behavior, as the use of job performance reviews increases, so does the research that questions their effectiveness. I’ve always been something of a skeptic. That is to say, I’ve seen well-designed processes implemented by wise and sensitive supervisors build better, stronger, more trusting relationships that resulted in continuous performance improvement. The problem is I haven’t seen very many of them. Most of the forms and processes I’ve seen can’t even pass a basic snicker test. They’re artificial and superficial at the same ti...

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Many people who want to lead – that is, to influence others – want to influence as many people as possible. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, when it comes to leading like Jesus, he wanted us to influence everyone in the world. But if your focus is on expanding your influence, you’ve put the cart before the horse. The key to expanding one’s influence is not about focusing on that task, but about focusing on expanding your capacity, says Chad Balthrop, executive pastor of First Baptist Church in Owasso, OK. To build capacity, we need five ingredients: Care passionately...

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  In many places – including both work environments and families -- leaders act like questions are a problem. I have one friend who grew up in a home where the children were told – seriously – to speak only when spoken to. Is it any wonder he had to work hard to be outgoing and forthcoming in adulthood? Another friend was part of a highly-skilled team at a federal agency some years ago when they got a new boss, a political appointee, who told team members at her first meeting with them, “I don’t want any feedback.” Is it any wonder operations in the agency quickly deteri...

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For 30 years I worked as head of an office for a Catholic Diocese. Many of my co-workers marveled that I had such good access and got along so well with the bishops who employed me. One of the reasons is that I really liked all three of the ones I worked for, despite the major differences in their personalities and leadership styles. But another reason was that I occasionally disagreed with them – and did so in such a way that they thought I added value to their leadership responsibilities rather than challenging their authority. After a few such instances, they often asked my opinion before I even had a chance...

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Don’t get me wrong: I’m a big believer in delegation. Even if at first I didn’t understand the virtue of it, I quickly came to understand its necessity. My first management experience was as head of a moribund chain of community newspapers. Our company bought it with great expectations. After years of virtually no growth, my job was to turn it into the likes of Jack’s proverbial beanstalk. And that’s exactly what we did. In eight years we increased its overall gross revenues five-fold. We started with a broken-down physical plant that was home to outdated technology – all of it ...

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  At our Encounters, we like to explore the fact that people are more effective if their view of the world corresponds to reality. And the reality is that the world is not only very interactive, it is also incredibly interdependent. Thus we -- the people who inhabit this world -- are interdependent as well. This is an essential dimension of reality that is not always easy for people in the modern world to notice. We are inclined to see the human race as a collection of independent agents rather than as a complex system of highly interdependent members. We are disposed to see the totality of human development ...

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  When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Acts 2:1-4 It probably won’t become a major civil holiday until some clever promoter can come up with a reason why people should send out piles of greeting cards and buy up...

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